In a recent Globe and Mail article, ‘Whips, chains and the rise of mommy porn’, Russell Smith discusses the meteoric rise of a trilogy of novels called Fifty Shades of Grey. These books, written by E.L. James, started out life as fanfiction. Then they were repurposed and sold in eBook format. Now the book’s out in paperback AND the movie rights have been purchased.
I haven’t read the book(s) so I can’t comment on the quality of writing. I do know a little something about fanfiction, though. There’s a lot of it out there in varying degrees of quality from extremely, wretchedly bad to just as good or better than some of the published stuff you pay money for. Back in the day I may have written some fanfic (well, okay, a lot of fanfic) myself. Perhaps one or two of my stories had some sex (okay, a lot of sex) in them.
I guess the thing that intrigues me about all the kerfluffle surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey is the notion that the fact that women read porn, or want to read it seems like news to anyone. Really? Porn is the domain of men?
And I wonder why so much is being made of this novel’s scenario: rich, good looking guy, beautiful, submissive virgin = sexual hijinks. I mean, men have equally lame fantasies (guy plus two gorgeous chicks; guy with big-breasted blonde…you get the picture.) Whatever floats your boat, right? In bed and on the page.
And I love it that male reviewers are weighing in. Tim Stanley of The Telegraph called James’s novel “exploitative, sadistic porn.” Yep – that’s gonna turn off readers. And anyway, Mr. Stanley admits that he is “personally I’m not a fan of sex – I’ve always regarded it as a disappointing substitute for a cup of tea.” Clearly he’s not in a position to weigh in with any degree of authority. Actually, sounds like he’s not in any position at all. But I digress.
I read erotica. Sometimes it’s really good. Sometimes it isn’t. I bring my own personal preferences to the page – which is true of any book I read, btw. Have I watched porn? Please, I’m way old; I’ve seen it all. Again, I’d rather Zalman King than Edward Penishands, but that’s just me.
Seriously, folks, it’s not news that women like sex.
Now, if you’ll excuse me – I have some, erm, reading to do.